Updated: Dec 13, 2020
I had this idea in my mind for quite some time. I was procrastinating about it; perhaps I was being skeptical about how it may turn out. Eventually, I decided to just give it a shot. I am so glad that I did as it turns out wonderfully! I know that Singaporeans or Malaysians may think otherwise; not everyone can accept changes, especially when it comes to traditional food like Laksa. Do you agree?
I sorta fuse laksa with some Italian and Japanese elements. I used a roux-cheese-based sauce to mimic the fillings of a ravioli. In case you asked, the handkerchief idea is inspired by the wonderful Chef Gabrielle Hamilton. The handkerchief is probably the most challenging element of this dish. My idea is to use traditional laksa rice noodles and flip them upside down into a large handkerchief to cover the sauce. Yes, like a ravioli.
As for the shrimp balls, I wanted to create a different texture rather than poached shrimps. So I decided to pane and fried them. In this way, you will get a crispy and bouncy texture from the shrimps, a silky smooth texture from the "handkerchief" and saucy-spicy-cheesy fillings.
I also added a final touch by drizzling a fermented shrimp paste over the top. This is because, the laksa in Penang, Malaysia, serve their laksa with that black secret sauce. The closest you can substitute with is oyster sauce or maybe even hoisin sauce. This is how this dish is born. I know this a long process with a huge list of ingredients, but I still hope you will give this recipe a go.
Inspired by Chef Gabrielle Hamilton
Shrimps, 12 Large
Baking Soda, 1 TSP
Ice Cubes, 1 Heaping Cup
Egg White, 1 TBSP
Tapioca Starch, 1/2 TBSP
Sake, 1 TBSP
Japanese Mayo, 2 TSP
Bleached All Purpose Flour, 2 TSP + More For Dredging
Potato / Corn Starch, 2 TSP
Sea Salt, Pinch
White Pepper, Pinch
Dried Mushroom Powder, Pinch
Shichimi Togarashi, Pinch
Eggs Beaten, 1
Japanese Panko, For Dredging
Desiccated Coconut, For Dredging
Laksa Spice Mix:
Dried Chilies, 4
Dried Shrimps, 1 1/2 TBSP
Dried Scallops, 3
Water, 1/2 Cup
Shallots Coarsely Chopped, 3
Garlic Crushed, 1 Clove
Galangal (Blue Ginger) Sliced, 1/4 Inch
Lemongrass (White Part Only) Finely Sliced, 1 Stalk
Candlenut / Macadamia Nuts, 1
Coriander Powder, 1/4 TBSP
Turmeric Powder, 1/4 TSP
Fresh Red Chili Sliced Deseeded, 1
Canola / Peanut / Vegetable Oil, A Drizzle
Belacan (Fermented Shrimp Paste), 1/2 TBSP
Laksa Leaves (Persicaria Odorata / Vietnamese Coriander), 12 Leaves + More For Garnish
Bleached All Purpose Flour, 1 TBSP
Unsalted Butter, 1 TBSP
Coconut Milk, 1/2 Cup
Coconut Sugar, 1/2 TBSP
Low Moisture Mozzarella Freshly Shredded, 1/8 Cup
Gruyere Freshly Shredded, 1/4 Cup
Parmigiano Reggiano Freshly Grated, 1.5 TBSP
Sea Salt, Pinch
White Pepper, Pinch
Rice Flour, 105g
Tapioca Starch, 30g
Sea Salt, Pinch
Water Room Temperature, 200g
Boiling Water, 75g
Black Fermented Shrimp Paste Sauce, Drizzle
Dutch Oven / Deep Fryer
Cast Iron Skillet / Pan
Blender / Food Processor
Prepare the shrimps.
Shell and devein the shrimps.
*Do not discard the shells. Use them to make shrimp stock. Simply transfer the shells into a sauce pot and fill it up with water. Bring it to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for 5 to 8 mins. Drain, discard the shells and set the stock aside for usage at a later stage.*
Transfer the shrimps into a large bowl.
Coat the shrimps well with baking soda.
Add just enuff water to submerge the shrimps.
Add in the ice cubes.
Set aside for at least 30 mins.
You can see that the shrimps start to change color a bit.
Drain and rinse the shrimps thoroughly under running water.
Place shrimps into a small bowl along with egg white and tapioca starch.
Mix until the shrimps are well coated.
Cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge overnight.
The next day, divide the shrimps' portion into halves.
Dice 1 half and set aside.
Finely chop the other half into a paste or mousse. Best with a Chinese Cleaver.
Transfer all the shrimp into a mixing bowl.
Add in sake, mayo, flour, potato starch, salt, pepper and mushroom powder.
Mix to combine well and transfer into a greased ice cube tray. This will ensure that the shrimps stay in shape.
Cover with cling film and place it in the freezer for at least 2 hrs.
Prepare a dutch oven or a deep fryer with at least 3 inches of oil over medium heat.
*Dip a wooden chopstick into the oil. If bubbles start to form, the oil is ready. If the bubbles are bubbling rapidly, the temperature is too high.*
Before frying the shrimps, I like to fry a handful of the laksa leaves. This is to add more flavors into the oil and the fried crispy leaves can be used as garnishes.
Prepare dredging station: A shallow bowl with some flour. Season with salt, pepper and shichimi togarashi. Another shallow bowl with a mixture of panko and desiccated coconut. And one last bowl with a beaten egg.
Remove the shrimps from the freezer
Dredge the shrimp cubes into the flour mixture.
Shake off any excess flour.
Dredge the patties into the egg and lastly into panko mixture.
Gently drop the shrimp cubes away from you into the oil.
Deep frying until golden brown on both sides.
Remove from heat and transfer onto a wire cooling rack or a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off excess oil.
*Do not crowd the dutch oven or fryer. Fry in batches.*
Prepare the laksa spice mix.
Soaked dried chilies in a bowl of warm water for at least 30 mins or until the chilies are soft.
Slice, discard the seeds and add into the blender.
*If possible, wear a pair of gloves when deseeding as some dried chilies are really spicy.*
In another bowl, soak dried shrimps with 1/4 cup of water for at least 30 mins.
Add the shrimps and water into the food processor.
In another bowl, add dried scallops and 1/4 cup of water.
Steam until the scallops are fork-tender.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool down.
Once cooled, using hands to shred the scallops and transfer them into the blender.
In the blender, add in the shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, candlenut, coriander powder, turmeric powder and fresh red chili.
Blitz it up until fine paste forms.
In a skillet over medium heat, drizzle in vegetable oil.
Once the oil is heated up, add in the belacan.
Using your spatula, break the belacan into small pieces.
Add in the chili mixture.
*Do not wash the blender, instead, add 1/2 cup of that shrimp stock into the blender and blitz up all the nooks and crannies. Set aside.*
Saute to combine well.
Cook until the color has darkened and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the laksa sauce.
Stack the laksa leaves, roll the leaves into a cigar shape.
Finely slice the leaves and set aside.
In a sauce pot over medium-low heat, add in butter.
Once the butter starts to melt, add in flour.
Whisk to combine well.
Once the color turns blond yellowish, gradually, add in coconut milk and shrimp stock from the blender while still whisking at the same time.
*Make sure no lumps.*
Gradually, add in the spice mix while still whisking at the same time.
Once the spice mix is fully incorporated, add in the sliced laksa leaves and sugar.
Whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
Lastly, add in the cheeses.
Whisk until everything has melted.
Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper or more sugar.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the rice noodles.
Mix rice flour, tapioca starch and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Gradually pour in the water while still mixing.
*The water has to be at boiling temperature.*
You should have a smooth batter without any lumps.
Set aside for 30 mins. Give it a stir every 10 mins.
Heat up a steamer.
Grease a non-stick pan or a plate.
Pass the batter thru' a fine sieve and onto the pan or plate.
*It shouldn't be too much or too less batter. If it has too much batter, it will not cook properly and thus create a doughy texture. If it has too little batter, it will tear easily when unmolding. You may have to try a few times before getting it right.*
Steam for 8 to 10 mins.
You should see large bubbles forming on the dough.
Remove from heat and brush the dough with more oil.
Slowly unmold with an offset spatula.
Lay on a plate lined with parchment paper.
Place another parchment paper on top of the noodle. This is to ensure the noodles do not stick to one another when you are stacking them.
Repeat the process for the remaining batter.
Spoon the laksa cheese sauce onto serving plates.
Lay the rice noodles on top of the sauce.
Place 3 shrimp cubes over the top.
Garnish with some fried laksa leaves.
Drizzle some of the shrimp paste sauce over the top.